Confucianism: a blend of radicalism and tradition

Shaw, Elliott (2015) Confucianism: a blend of radicalism and tradition. In: Confucianism: a blend of radicalism and tradition, 8 April 2015, Department of Asian Studies, Faculty of Arts, Palacký University, Olomouc, Czech Republic. (Unpublished)

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Living in the 6th and 5th centuries BCE Confucius witnessed a period of growing instability in China; it was one in which Zhou rule was increasingly weakened and power fell into the hands of feudal lords. The growing decentralisation of power created the conditions that eventually led to the breakdown of central rule and a period of ongoing conflict which came to be known as the warring states era. This lecture seeks to explore the development of Confucius' humanistic ideas against the background of such developments. It examines how Confucianism sought to foster social harmony through encouraging the cultivation of a range of virtues, the acceptance of hierarchical relationality, and by invoking exemplary models of conduct from the past. It is proposed that Confucianism can be understood as blending both revolutionary and conservative motifs. On the one hand it took a radically democratic form through redefining traditional aristocratic concepts in the form of universally accessible ethical categories; on the other hand, it discouraged revolutionary change through encouraging loyalty, obedience and respect for the current political order.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Lecture)
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Departments: Academic Departments > Institute of Arts (IOA) > Humanities
Additional Information: Chinese philosophy lecture given as part of the Spring 2015 lectures and seminars series at Chinet (“Forging a scientific team and international networking in the field of Chinese Studies”), a project at the Department of Asian Studies at Palacký University Olomouc, Czech Republic.
Depositing User: Insight Administrator
Date Deposited: 23 Nov 2015 17:02
Last Modified: 06 Jul 2021 11:30


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